Monday, July 30, 2007

Political Puzzlement

I have been pondering the many different political candidates, their statements, speeches, spinning, sniveling, and stupidity, and have been frustrated, exasperated and irritated and once in a while have been pleased with something one of them has said. How's that for a long sentence??

I think that I have reached the point where I have decided who I am supporting and why.

But, I have some personal questions to ask of this particular candidate before I formally commit.

So I am not going to announce yet. I think I'm convinced, but I want clarity on several issues.

Now I realize that this is a tease. I'm talking politics, and not revealing my hand. Tough. I'm not shy, and when I get ready to tell y'all I will speak right up. Until then I am going to pray about it some more, read some more articles, and attend another speech or two.

I have a couple of questions to ask of my reader(s). Are there more than one of you?

Did you see the chart/article on the candidates and their ideas about education in the
Des Moines Sunday Register? I don't care which candidate you think your supporting, which one has the most logical, Biblical, and Constitutional stand on education?

Hint, if you think it's the one that is going to "provide laptop computers to all middle and high school students". (BTW, I'm not making that up.) Then you and I have two totally different views of the world.

If you think creating more preschool and head start programs is the answer, you and I are also seeing the world through different glasses.

In less than two weeks, the Iowa Straw Poll will be taking place in Ames. I am planning to be there, I have arranged for tickets, and I am going to vote in the Straw Poll. Between now and then I will tell you who I have decided to vote for. Until I tell you, I'm praying, reading, listening, and looking to find a man of true principle and character. Are there any in the race?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Now that's Funny

Kucinich hospitalized with apparent food poisoning
Associated Press

CLEVELAND - Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, who is a vegan, has been hospitalized with "severe" effects of apparent food poisoning.

The 60-year-old congressman from Cleveland became sick Sunday night while flying to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to address the national Longshoremen's convention. He went ahead with the speech Monday but immediately returned home and was hospitalized in the Cleveland area.

The name of the hospital wasn't disclosed. Andy Juniewicz, a campaign spokesman, said Kucinich was improving Tuesday night and said no medical update was available Wednesday morning.

Kucinich, a former Cleveland mayor, typically polls in the low single digits.

What a hoot. All these vegans who are worried about their food being tainted and then stuff like this happens, this is high quality humor. Hope you get to feeling better soon, dude. Maybe if you'd eat a steak Dennis, you'd feel better.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Knee High, By the Fifth of July

Since the days of my youth, too many years ago now, the old timers would talk about the corn crop looking good if it was "Knee high, by the 4th of July". Now this saying was directly related to the fact that the corn was typically not planted until after the 5th of May and sometimes the real procrastinators would not be done planting corn till near the 1st of June. Over the years we have learned something about growing corn. Every day after the 15th of May, some are saying the 10th, reduces yield by one bushel. In other words corn planted on the 20th of April should yield 20 to 25 bushel an acre more than corn planted on the 15th of May. Using a price of $3.00 dollars a bushel, we're talking about $60 to $75 dollars an acre for planting early. In the cutthroat farming game, those dollars are far to precious to let slip away. So, most corn planted in north Iowa this year was planted between the 20th of April and May 10th. This planting window allows for rainy days or even a week, multiple fields and other things which are required to produce a crop, such as manure hauling, fertilizer application and spraying.

All of which, helps to explain this picture. The corn was planted on (I think) April 28th, we have so far had adequate rainfall, and warm weather. Corn needs a certain number of "heat units", ie days with x amount of BTU's in sunshine, to reach maturity. I'm not giving a specific number because this number varies according to the number of days a particular varity takes to reach maturity. Some corn takes 98 days to reach maturity, some takes 114 days. A farmer will plant some corn from several different groups to spread his risk, each group will be affected differently by the weather conditions, rainfall during pollination, and other factors such as bugs, fungus, and wind. This corn in the picture has been growing for 68 days. It will tassel, and begin pollination in the next 5 days. Yields will be much better if we recieve rain during pollination. The the pollen falling down onto the silks on the ears of corn will stick and pollinate the plant better if they are wet.

As you can see, this corn is a little past knee high, on my seven year-old.

The crop is looking good. We'll need a rain in the next ten days, and not to much heat, it was over 90 today.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Nitrogen for growing corn.

Before I started this blog I had several on-line converstation with people who asked questions about commercial fertilizer, organic crops and modern agriculture. Now I work on a farm where most of the latest and best agriculture practices are used. Some, maybe even most are related to large scale production, this does not make them wrong, it simply means that the goal of this operation is to produce as many bushels of corn and beans as possible with the lowest possible amount of inputs(costs). Nothing is done that will not show a financial return. Money is not spent on needless trips across the fields, or spraying chemical just to make the paranoid enviromentalist/luddites have a hissy fit.
I would be glad to expand on that paragraph. If you have questions, I'll try to answer, but the post tonight is about the effects of commercial fertilizer. Someone questioned why put good money in the ground by putting on anhydrous ammonia(NH3), as I showed pictures of in a previous post. One of the most important nutrients necessary for growing corn. Without the nitrogen the corn plant is pale almost yellow, it is stunted in height, and most importantly without nitrogen during the pre pollination stage, the corn plant is already determining ear length and the number of rows of kernals. Without nitrogen those things will be considerably smaller, leading directly to reduced yields. And since high yields are the goal, having all the nitrogen available to the plant when it needs it is critical.

The following picture is an excellent illustration of this lack of nitrogen effect. One of the tool bars shown in that previous post, had a plugged knife,(three different operators, none of us noticed the the knife was not working correctly) the part which goes into the ground, injecting the NH3 into the soil. As a result, each pass made with the toolbar left a streak in the field where little or no NH3 was applied. As you can see in the picture, the corn is yellow, stunted (a foot shorter) and generally unhealthy compared to the field around it. A dark green plant, with high levels of chlorophyll is going to be much more effective in the photosynthesis process, turning the energy of the sun, into grain. This particular field was corn on corn, so there was little nitrogen left from the previous year,(remember soybeans add nitrogen back to the soil). On the fields which were corn on beans this streak is not noticable.

On Saturday we went to southern Iowa to see that new baby. It was good to see everybody again. Got to be there on my parents 45th wedding anniversery. I have a couple of pictures from down in the hill country of southern Iowa. Some people have the mistaken notion that Iowa is all flat as a board, with nothing but corn and bean fields interupted by the occasional hog building. Not where I grew up. This is some timber land on the home farm.

Before the summer is over I intend to take my family camping in that timber, as well as any other friends who are tough enough not to have to sleep in a house on wheels. We are going to rough it for a couple of nights, no running water, no electricty and no TV. The next picture is standing in roughly the same spot looking the other direction at a huge old oak tree. The tires in the foreground were used at several church youth outtings sponsored by my younger brother for games, like roll the tire race, run through the tire race, stack the tires over the little kid (just joking).

This last picture I am especially proud of. My second daughter, one of the twins, took this one at dusk, looking west from our yard. We gave her the digital camera for Christmas, and she is beginning to show some real talent in the photography field. I let the kids read the comments ya'll make, so if you like it, say something and she'll see it. Can you see the firefly in the middle?